Bangkok cops on flood alert

Police are on alert for the possibility of sudden flooding in 21 spots in Bangkok, following the latest weather forecast of heavy downpours in the capital until the end of this weekend.

Vehicles slow down as they battle floods on Buddha Monthon Road 4 near the intersection with Phetkasem Road yesterday. PHONGTHAI WATTANAVANITVUT

The National Water and Flood Management Policy Committee reported yesterday that many areas in Bangkok will continue to see heavy rain until Sunday.

The Meteorological Department said people in the capital, particularly in low-lying areas, might experience some flooding if rainfall exceeds drainage capacity.

Pracha Rat Bamphen Road and a section of Ratchadaphisek Road in Huai Khwang district, where current drainage is inadequate, are among the areas at risk of abrupt flooding, said national police spokesman Piya Uthayo.

Motorists are advised to avoid the at-risk roads when it rains.

Huai Khwang police have been told to work with relevant agencies to speed up the clearing of clogged sewers and prepare pumps for these two spots, Pol Maj Gen Piya said.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration said more than 30 roads in the capital were flooded because of heavy rain on Tuesday about 2pm, but work crews were able to drain water from the main roads by 5.30pm.

The downpours that caused brief flooding and heavy traffic congestion in the capital have left the government at odds with City Hall, which was unhappy that police went ahead with cleaning the sewers without telling it in advance.

Drainage has become a major problem in the city's flood prevention efforts, as it consists of mostly small sewers designed to deal with only 60 millimetres of rainfall an hour.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bangkok was slammed with rainfall of 138mm an hour, which meant it took three hours to drain water from flooded areas, according to National Disaster Warning Centre director Somsak Khaosuwan.

National Water and Flood Management Policy director Phiphat Rueangngam said: "Such a drainage rate is not too bad, though it's slow."

City Hall faced a tough job because of both drainage limitations and the confluence of high tides about 5pm which prevented rainwater from easily flowing into the Chao Phraya River, Mr Phiphat said.

Elsewhere, heavy rains caused flooding in the tourist resort island of Phuket overnight. Some roads in Patong municipality also became impassable. Water levels were around 50cm to 1m.

In Nakhon Phuket municipality, the water level rose in the Bang Yai canal.

Local residents and shop owners in the business area on Thalang Road piled sandbags in front of their houses, fearing possible overflow from the canal during high tide.

In Chiang Mai, residents of Ban Piang Kong in Fang district rushed out of their homes late on Tuesday night, seeking safe ground after a mountain torrent from the Doi Fa Phahom Pok National Park smashed their village bridge with a large tree and plant debris.

They returned home uninjured yesterday.

In Phitsanulok, officials spent two hours clearing landslides blocking a 100m-section of Nakhon Thai-Dan Sai Road. They asked the government to prevent such accidents over the long term as they occur frequently and threaten tourists using the route to get to Phu Rua National Park in Loei's Phu Rua district.

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